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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  May 2, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm EDT

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liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? you're looking live at ground zero in new york. the attacks of 9/11 marked the first time much of america heard the name osama bin laden or heard about the terror net work that he ran. now nearly ten years after those attacks, a worldwide manhunt is over and osama bin laden is dead. hello, everybody. i'm randi kaye and i'm coming to you live today from ground zero here they lower manhattan. cnn has learned of course that the dna test confirms that what president obama told the nation late last night in fact is true, it is a match. al qaeda's leader is dead. american troops shot him in the head. you can see his status now on
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the fbi's most wanted list. deceaseded. a u.s. government official tells cnn that it was a kill operation. there was no plan to take him alive at his mansion in abbottab abbottabad. the body was buried at sea around 12 hours later. islamic tradition says it should be buried within one day. it was chosen because there was no country willing or able to accept the body for burial. here's the video shot by abc news. some of the first looks inside the palace where he was killed. just a quick snapshot of the successful operation. it begs the question how did the world's most notorious terrorist build himself a mansion 60 miles from pakistan's capital, but this is the picture most of the world will always associate with bin laden and al qaeda. take a look. the attack on the world trade center. the fiery hole on the pentagon tearing a hole in the building.
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and a field in pennsylvania where a plane was brought down by heros. 2976 people died that day. we'll hear some of the president's announcement in a moment, but here's a same released just a short timing a go by former vice president dick cheney. the death of osama bin laden at the hands of american forces is a victory for the united states. today the message our forces have sent is clear. if it you attack the united states, we will find you and, of course, we will bring you to justice. now, let's get right to the heart of this story. which means that we want to take you to pakistan. that is where american forces found osama bin laden after months of tracking him. our nick payton walsh is in it islamabad, pakistan. if i can, if you can, set the scene for me there as news spreads of osama bin laden's death. >> reporter: i think really the first hinge to point out is when news of this broke, pakistani
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intelligence officials were quick to point out that they were on the ground during the operation by the americans. that was subsequently denied by the americans and then denied by the same pakistani sources. so there was an immediate rush to have seemed to have been involved really in this quite remarkable american operation. which pakistanis are saying in fact actually began undetected. helicopters flu in, got over the compound before pakistani air defenses were aware they had arrived. obviously a 40 minute gunfire ensued. but this was an immediate rush by pakistan to hook like it was on site, to look like this is the result of intelligence sharing. in fact one suggesting phone records had been given by the pakistanis to the americans and it enabled them to find this particular compound. >> and if you could, tell us a little bit about the compound there. it's described as a mansion. does it stick out in that
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neighborhood? >> reporter: i have to say i've not seen it, but the pictures i have seen do suggest the building quite as odds with the rest of the town. not necessarily that central, but very high walls. significant defenses. no apparently communications in terms of telephone or internet. so, yes, perhaps a strange com pound in that busy town. bear in mind we're dealing with a city of that size, that many people, buildings aren't really going to stand out unless you're aware of the world's most wanted terrorist is within them. >> and from what we're being told at cnn is that the pakistani government, pakistani officials, were not even in on this operation. they weren't aware of it. what are you hearing today from the pakistani government? >> reporter: absolutely. as i said earlier, they tried at the beginning to suggest they were involved. then the americans denied that was the case and then the pakistanis said fair enough, we weren't there, but they're suggesting their intelligence allowed them to find the com
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bou compound. i would have been enormously surprised given the lack of tru trust, it would have been a huge surprise if the americans had chosen this moment to share the intelligence and their operation with the pakistanis given how they frankly didn't seem to be getting on at all. i think there's an attempt for the pakistani government to try to seem on side, to show they were very much involved, although seems from what we're hearing the helicopters turned up undetected. they didn't know it was happening until it had begun. >> it is an amazing story. nick payton walsh for us live in islamabad. thank you. the successful race was led by the cia. leon panetta was the commander of the strike against osama bin laden, an operation that they practiced, practiced, to make sure that it went off without a
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hitch. but there were some bumps along the way. drew griffin takes a look at how it all went down and how the president informed the nation. >> i can report to the american people and to the world that the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden. >> reporter: it began last august. new leads came to height about the possible whereabouts of osama bin laden. >> it was far from certain. and it took many months to run this thread to ground. i met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin laden hiding within a com pound. >> reporter: the key lead, tracking down one of the few couriers trusted by bin laden. that occcourier's movements led them to this compound, a mansion on three floors, high security walls, a place built to hide someone important. planning intensified within the
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past few weeks with the president sharing five national security council meetings. the final one thursday last week. the following day at 8:20 a.m., as the president prepared to leave the white house for alabama, president obama gave the go ahead for a mission that had been rehearsed for months. on sunday, national security staff worked all day on the operation. a senior administration official says at 2:00 p.m., the president met with his senior staff to review final preparations. at about 4:00 p.m. eastern sunday, just after midnight in pakistan, a team of navy seof n s.e.a.l.s raid the compound. >> a small team of americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. >> reporter: bin laden resisted and was killed in the firefight. according to one source, shot in
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the head. the whole operation was carried out in less than 40 minutes along with bin laden, three other men were killed, u.s. officials believe one was bin laden's adult son. a woman was killed when used by one of the men as a human shield. there were no u.s. casualties, but a u.s. helicopter was destroyed by its own crew after a mechanical failure. at 7:00 p.m., the president learned there was a high probability the high value target was osama bin laden. >> the message from the obama administration is clear, osama bin laden is dead but al qaeda is still very much alive. >> everybody as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin laden. indeed we must take this opportunity to remove our
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resolve and redouble our efforts. >> officials are warning that all americans need to be vigilant, that al qaeda and its supporters could strike back. so let's turn to chris lawrence. chris, what extra security precautions if any are being taken right now? >> well, if you're talking about around u.s. bases here in the united states, they have upped the security level, but it to where near the highest level. the bases in iraq and afghanistan are already operating under tremendous security. but we've also got some new information now about what's happened when this operation went down. as drew mentioned, the entire operation only lasted about 40 minutes. but we're now learning that osama bin laden was killed in the last 5 to 10 minutes of that operation. that two adults men lived on the first floor of that com pound. and when the assault team came in, will at the had to fight their way through the house, new those men. osama bin laden and his family
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lived on the second and the third floor. so they were the last ones that the assault team reached. we also have a new diagram now that gives you a better perspective of what the assault team was looking at. windows were opaque, 18-foot high walls, even barrier around. it senior officials said this house was designed to obscure the view from all angles around it. and when they went in and after they got the body of osama bin laden, another key that happened here and it really speaks to what secretary clinton mentioned in terms of the ongoing war against terrorism, they found what they're calling a robust trove of material and information in that compound. this it fact they say it was so much they now have set up a task force to analyze it and they're
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hoping to use some of this information that they got in the compound to find other targets of al qaeda. >> chris, it's so impressive when you think about them going in in the dark of night and these walls that are 18-feet high with the barbed wire on the top and coming out of there with osama bin laden, it's really an incredible maneuver. what can you tell us about the decision to bury bin laden at sea? i understand that he needed to be buried within a day. >> you're right. under islamic law, the body should be buried within 24 hours. and a senior defense official told me that basically they could not find a country that was either willing or able to accept his body for burial. so almost exactly 12 hours ago from right now, 12 hours previously, osama bin laden's body was buried at sea. the rights were conducted on the deck of the uss karl vincent in the arabian sea and we're told that all this will was done under islamic law.
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that bin laden's body was washed, that it was then wrapped in a white sheet, that prepared remarks were made by a military official and then translated into arabic by a mate difference speaker. at that point, bin laden's body was placed on a flat board, theboard was slowly raised and typed up and bin laden's body was allowed to simply slide off into the sea. >> chris, thank you. as i mentioned, i'm here at ground zero. we're actually inside ground zero, the site of al qaeda's biggest attack bringing down the twin towers on 9/11. an as you can imagine, the we could motion here has been incredible since word first spread that owes bisama bin lad dead. there were celebrations here overnight. we also saw them many other places where people were touched by these latest developments. less than an hour ago, some family members of 9/11 victims spoke about their feelings.
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>> he will not live to inspire anymore terrorists as a living person. and i plugs thank the united states military and present admed administration and all those who assisted our country in apprehending osama bin laden. while we have very gratified, we're still living with the pain, the sorrow and grief of the death of our son, our daughters and our loved ones. >> osama bin laden had the devil's blood running new his veins. and this is a joyous day for us. it's not done. the job is not done. we still have a long way to go. but we've gotten rid of one evil, evil commodity. >> well, all the recon and all the plans amounts to nothing
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without, of course, precise execution. so how does an operation like this really go down? in two minutes, i'm joined by a navy s.e.a.l. who worked with the very group that carried out the takedown. >> spirit has never been stronger. the construction you see -- >> mayor bloomberg i'm being told speaking right now, so let's listen in. >> nothing will return our loved ones, but we are rebuilding a monument to the american spirit. new york's way is ever forward it ten terrible years ago, a terrible evil visited place. today let the spirits that are all around us know some piece and justice. last night spontaneous celebrated occurred here in hoer
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manhattan, at the white house, in other places and in private homes around the country and the world. they were a tribute to the selfless value lar and decoration of our armed forces and to those who have worked to prevent terrorist attacks over the past 9 1/2 years. during that time new york police department have built the most effective counter terrorism operation of any police department in the world. today takes does every day, commissioner kelly and our counterterrorism experts will adjust their strategies and deploy their resources based on the latest pore. as of now i'm happy to say there are no new immediate threats against our city. but there is no doubt that we remain a top target and killing of bin laden will not change that, nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolute highest priority, defending our city and country against all those who use
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violence to attack freedom. on behalf of all new york residents, i do want to congratulate our commander in chief, all the men and women in our orred forces and intel against community for accomplishing this mission. i also want to recognize as president obama did the leadership of his presented is stea predecessor, president bush. in the days after 9/11, he stood here and stood on the rubble shoulder to shoulder and used a bull horn to tell the world take we would bring justice to those who attacked our city and our country. he never wavered in that mission. and his leadership was crucial to yesterday's victory. today we're joined by a number of family members who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks as well as police commissioner ray kelly, fire department commissioner and port authority executive director chris ward. i also want to acknowledge joe daniels the executive director
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of the 9/11 memorial foundation as well as two leaders who played such important roles in helping our city and country heal us in the immediate after math of the attacks. mayor rudy giuliani and governor george pataki. and i had like to ask chris to say a few words. >> thank you, mayor. this morning in a conversation with governor cuomo, the state was placed on high alert in coordination with the port authority of new york, the new jersey throughout will region and throughout the rest of the state, his message on that conference call this morning much like the mayor, a sechbs relief perhaps even a sense of joy, but more importantly a sense ofvilvinlg wlans and chals going forward. as you can see behind us, there is no longer a pit, but we must complete this site and the work
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of this country and president obama to bring osama bin laden to justice reflects the kind of perseverance and endurance that this nation has always demonstrated and now today this city and the port authority of new york and new jersey are demonstrating behind you. thank you very much. >> chris, thank you. our speaker of the city council, christine quinn is with us today. >> you've been listening to mayor michael bloomberg speaking with other officials and also speaking with some of the family members of the 9/11 victims. he was quick to say there's no immediate threat to new york city, but obviously just making my with a down here today, you can see all the fems gathered, many in tear, many taking pictures. so this is a very important day for the country, but he is peshl h. speci especially a very important day for new york. much more after a quick break. respect ireless network all across america.
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usa, usa, usa! >> as we've mentioned, u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s carried out the mission it that resulted in osama bin laden's death. the raid occurred in abbottabad north of islamabad. s.e.a.l. is an arrow nim for
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sea, air and land. the web page describes them as a special breed of warrior who conduct special operations in any environment but who are uhe fe uniquely trained. here to join us are two s.e.a.l. veterans. both lieutenant commanders in the reserves. thanks for joining us both of you. tell us a little bit about the s.e.a.l. training and how they might have trained for a mission like this one. >> well, s.e.a.l. training is often considered the most arduous training in the entire u.s. military. it takes approximately 18 months to become a bona fide s.e.a.l. operator and then beyond that many years of additional training.
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to train up and to practice for this raid, this is not weeks in the making. this is months and years of dedicated training. >> and eric, you once served as the commander of an al qaeda targeting cell, you write about it in your new book. tell us about the targeting cell and the training that may have been similar to the bin laden mission. >> one of the things that s.e.a.l.s were doing in places like afghanistan and iraq was to actually work very closely with intelligence professionals in order to develop and then hit targets on the ground. and it takes a tremendous amount of hard training, but that training is not just in the fist, it's not just about courage and physical stenk and tactics. the training is also intended to create warriors who have a real heart for public service. and s.e.a.l.s are a group that we can all be very proud of.
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>> and what would you say may is been the most difficult aspect of carrying out a mission like this one given what you know about the s.e.a.l.s and how they work? >> well, i think the entire package from start to finish is what's difficult. one, maintaining the operational security around such a high profile operation, developing the right intelligence and targeting packages to then go out and aptly execute the raid of the mission. and then finally executing it as we saw flawlessly without taking on any american casualties. it's pretty extraordinary event and pretty good day for the s.e.a.l. community and for the nation. >> and you can just talk about -- we think about these guys huddling at this compound knowing that this is it, this is the moment that they have been training for for months, for years perhaps. you can tuck jualk briefly abou
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adrenalin that they're feeling at that hospitamoment? >> as he said, s.e.a.l.s train for years. and prior to this operation, these men would have undergone practice numerous, numerous times in order to develop specific take practice for this target. they were trained for years and they were able to rely on the training that the american people have made apa tremendous invest nmt all of these s.e.a.l.s and we saw yesterday that that investment paid off. >> certainly have been able to keep their cool on such an important mission as this one is certainly impressive. obviously they do have some pretty intense training over the years. thank you so much for your insight. appreciate it. meanwhile, osama bin laden is dead, but the question is how is that affecting the markets? we're being a kell that question next. trs
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when the attacks happened on september 11th, 2001, it was in part an attack on the u.s. economy itself and to a degree it worked trading on u.s. stock markets was suspended after the first plane hit and remained closed for almost a week. european markets plunged and by
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week's end, the federal reserve had put billions in to the economy. gold and oil spiked and the airline entire and tourism industry were all but decimated. but ten years later the reaction reflects more the passage ever tile than the man behind these original attacks. rich afterward quest is at the stock exchange to talk more about what we're seeing there will. >> yes, i suppose we'd all arrived to work this morning feeling that will there would be a feel good rally and indeed the futures index had suggested that. but the truth of the matter is markets not sentiment of a noegt notion, they deal with what's happening. and from that point of view, they decided the rally should peter out. just to give you an overview, the dow jones barely changed.
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nasdaq off just a fraction. the core point is not so much what the numbers are showing, items he what the people here are telling you. because the people here were the ones who lived through it in many cases. they were the ones who were just blocked away when the world trade centers came down and here there is a quiet satisfaction in the killing of bin laden. there's not the rah-rah. here they saw colleagues and in some cases family. so what they're feeling today is a feeling of job done, justice done, rather than shouting from the tree tops. >> absolutely. and richard, request do you think we're seeing more reaction in gold and oil than the stock markets? >> our old friend gold.we're se gold and oil than the stock markets? >> our old friend gold. 2k3w08d is supposedly the safe haven of value. when things go bad, gold goes
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up. when things get better, gold goes down. i think it will be a rash and perhaps foolish person it that sees today's movements in gold as being anyone other than a knee jerk. the underlying problems of gold remain. gold will be back up again before too long. >> all right, richard, thank you. the news of osama bin laden's death was heard around the world. how the story unfolded here. we'll take you behind the scenes next. we're thinking about them. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks thousands of feet below us. technology has made it possible to safely unlock this cleanly burning natural gas. this deposits can provide us with fuel for a hundred years, providing energy security and economic growth all across this country. it just takes somebody having the idea,
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now, that's progressive. we've covered and reported on owes bsama bin laden for yea now. he's been the face of terror, his name synonymous with september 11th. his death like the attack on final is one of those rare defines events even for us. >> breaking news here on cnn tonight, we're awaiting president obama to speak. >> as we br the news, we were glued to our phones and e-mails working furiously to bring you the very latest on the situation. so we want to take a few minutes today to give you a glimpse of how this all unfolded for us
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behind will the scenes. of course one of the first to know the truth about bin laden's death was wolf blitzer who joins me now from d.c. you've covered pretty much every major event i'd say over the past 30 years. so tell us, how did you first find out about this? where were you and what were you doing it at the moment that you learned this? >> well, i suspected it immediately once i heard that there was going to be a statement from the president of the united states at 10:30 eastern. i got a call from our washington bureau who got a call from the white house saying president would make a statement for about ten minute. and i said on sunday night, 10:30 p.m. eastern he's going to be in the east room? i suspected something was going on. my initial instinct was maybe gadhafi, maybe libya. i made some phone calls. and i was quickly told it had nothing to do with libya or gadhafi. my sources were saying this is
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much, much more important, that it was a bigger story. that's when i suspected that we're talking bin laden because otherwise why would the president go out at that point. and i was in my kitchen at home just getting the word and i recall i was almost exactly ten years earlier when the planes went into the word trade center, i was almost in the same spot in the kitchen beginning to see what was happening and it was chilling for me. i got a shirt and tie and jacket, drove down to the bureau and by 10:15, i was on the air. we originally thought 10:30. it then slipped to 10:45, 11:00, finally after 11:30, the president eventually showed up. we had learned earlier, we had confirmed that bin laden had indeed been killed, but as you stay, i've been a journalist for a long time,s's one of those dramatic moments you'll never
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forget. >> and you were on air when the president made his statement last night, so what was the mood would you say? >> it was something that over the years, i had interviewed so many u.s. officials, so many afgh afghani officials, so many pakistani officials. and i would always say where is bin laden, is the u.s. any closer to finding him. and usually they would come up with he's probably hiding out in some cave in some remote mountainous area in the north pers western part of pakistan. it's hard to get, he's protected. i was pretty surprised when i heard he was living in a mansion about an hour's drive from the capital of pakistan in islamabad. basical basically in plain sight of everyone. it has a lot of retired pakistan any military officers living there, relatively affluent and
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here bin laden and some of his colleagues were hiding out. that was pretty surprising to me. i thought he was probably in some remote area. but i was surprised to hear he was almost in plain sight hiding out. >> yeah, i think a lot of people were when they think about him living in this mansion built about five years ago, 18-foot walls, and they burn their garbage instead of taking it out. certainly thank you for your perspective and all of your hard work as the news first broke last night. well, we are waiting to the white house brief to go start at any moment. there is sure to be new details on the mission to it take down osama bin laden. we're expecting to hear from jay carney as well as members of the national security team. so we do hope to bring you some new details today. so be sure to stay with us. keep it here live from ground
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zero. we'll be right back. building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible. [ airplane engine whines ] [ grunts ] [ dog barking ] gah! [ children shouting ] [ grunts ] [ whacking piñata ] [ whacking piñata, grunting ]
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two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy. we're not going to get too far away from the historic news of osama bin laden's death. at any moment the white house briefing will begin and we'll bring to you live. but first, we want to bring you up to speed on the huge tornado outbreak in the southeast.
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rob mabia is in tuscaloosa. >> a lot of power lines are going up trying to connect some of the communities outside of the disaster zone and that has locked up traffic to some of these areas and vital supplies trying to get into some of these outposts of volunteers giving away some of these life saving stuff like food and water. so that's one thing that's happened today. and some of those people have come in just from out of town randomly. take a listen to one operation. >> so you're just a random group of people that decided we want to come down here and help. and this is your operation. >> this is it. >> how many people do you think you've served so far? >> at least 10,000. at least in the last these days. at least. >> when i met ms. mitchell and she got a group of folks she'd never met, she came to
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tuscaloosa and they were just bonded by the desire to help people, i mean, it's inspiring. >> reporter: certainly that part of the story sin entiring. the amount of people and good energy. but the cold hard facts remain that this mess will be here for months if not years to recover. search and rescue operations still continue, surge and recovery i should say. there hasn't been any much good news on that frornnt. there it are still 300 people, considered to be unaccounted for in this area. and that number is frightening. back to you. >> all right, rob, thank you. once again, we want to remind that you we're waiting for the white house briefing to start any moment. jay carney is expected to be joined by members of the national security team. two expect new details on how
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they got osama bin laden overnight. so we'll have much more from ground zero. stay with us. "you just beat the widow-maker." i was put on an aspirin, and it's part of my regimen now. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. go see your doctor now.
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it was the mission from the beginning. get osama bin laden dead or
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alive. well, yesterday almost ten years after the deadly attacks on t t september 11th, 2001, the al qaeda leader was killed inside a mansion in abbottabad, pakistan. it they swept into the compound by helicopter and bin laden was among the five killed. so what does his death mean for the future of al qaeda? a lot of folks are asking that. joining us now from the time warner center here in new york, cnn terrorism analyst. paul, appreciate you being on the show. first, with bin laden dead, what's left of the terrorist organization? >> al qaeda without bin laden, but al qaeda without bin laden is not the al qaeda it was before. bin laden is absolutely crucial to al qaeda. he's provided the strategic direction for al qaeda not only before 9/11, but after 9/11 through all these audiotapes and videotapes. he's really the linchpin of al
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qaeda, a key unifying figure in an organization which has strong informations, a lot of factions, differented a j ed a jeagendas. there's a real risk that this organization may fracture. so testify's lost their leader and this is a really big deal for them. >> when you say fracture, do you mean will this could be the end of al qaeda? >> i think that this could accelerate the unraveling of al qaeda.al qaeda? >> i think that this could accelerate the unraveling of al qaeda.qaeda? >> i think that this could accelerate the unraveling of al qaeda. this has come at a very bad moment for al qaeda because that's been a backlash in the muslim world against it because of it bar bear ri bear barbaric there's been a whole spring
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where it's been reduced to virtual irrelevance. a lot of the core grievances are no longer this. so al qaeda will find it more difficult to recruit people moving forward. bin laden was the one individual who did have the charisma among these i didnjihadists to fight but he's for longer there now obviously. >> and is there anyone do you think just quick willy who might be able to step forward and lead al qaeda? >> well, it looks like al qaeda's number two al-zawahiri will step up to the number one position. he's a skillful strategist, an intellectual, but he's not got the charisma of bin laden or his track record as a jihadist. bin laden made his name in the '80s fighting the soviets.
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al-zawahiri won't be as an not fight in the same way, but he will be not as effective as bin laden and that will hurt the recruiting opportunities in the future quite hard i think. >> paul cruikshank, great insight, thank you so much. appreciate it. so bomb the compound or send in the navy s.e.a.l.s -- how the president made the decision he did is next. and plus, the white house briefing is scheduled to begin and we will bring that to you live. keep it here.
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have been treated for heart failure, or if, while on enbrel, you experience persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, or paleness. get back to the things that matter most. good job girls. ask your rheumatologist if enbrel is right for you. welcome back to the coverage here live at ground zero. when the president made the call to go after the compound in pakistan, he decided to use a targeted approach, instead of just dropping a bomb on the compound. that was a decision fraught with risk. senior political analyst gloria borger joins us from washington. how involved was the president
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in coordinating the operation? >> very personally involved. talking with senior administration officials they do make it clear as one said to me that this was a ci operation, that the cia did all of the detective work, but pretty soon after obama became president in june 2009, he signed a memo ordering his cia director to put a huge effort into finding osama bin laden, and by august of 2010, they kind of knew what they were looking at, but in piecing this together with the administration officials, what is very clear to me is that they, as one said to me, you are not absolutely certain that osama bin laden was in there. it is not like we had 100% clear evidence, so therefore f they h -- if they had decided to just bomb the place, you could have gotten out of there not knowing who you had killed an without
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any dna evidence and also killing some other people that perhaps you would rather not do. so they decided to do this really targeted approach so that they would be able to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, who it was they were killing, and they found out it was osama bin laden. >> it is amazing. they were certainly trying to limit the casualties as well. all right. gloria, thank you. appreciate it. >> sure. >> we will have another political update por you in just about an hour from now right here on cnn. meanwhile, u.s. officials knew that they had their man, but to eliminate doubt, they did a dna match on the body of osama bin laden. we will tell you about that coming up nextch [ female announcer ] get up to 1,900 dollars in rebates and tax credits,
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i knew you weren't allergic to me. [ sneezes ] you know, you can't take allegra with orange juice. both: really? fyi. [ male announcer ] get zyrtec®'s proven allergy relief and love the air®. -- captions by vitacg-- zyrtec® swww.vitac.comgy relief right now, you are looking at a live picture of the briefing room at the white housen't any minute now, we are expecting to hear from press secretary jay carney along with the president's national security team. we are expecting to get new information on the attack on the bin laden compound in pakistan which may explain of course why this is a packed house. so many reporters, so many members of the media hoping to get new details. we of course will get right to
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that and bring it to you life as soon as it happens here on cnn. u.s. officials say that there is no doubt that osama bin laden was one of the five people killed during yesterday's raid in pakistan. they based that on a dna match that was conducted today. senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen joins us now to tell us more about this. elizabeth, what do we know specifically about this test? >> well, a dna test is actually simple, randi. the way that it works is that they would have dna from his dead body and match it to something, and that something would either be a relative or dna from osama bin laden that was obtained from him when he was still alive, and then you would run your tests and see if they match up. >> so how would they have gotten dna samples from bin laden when he was alive? >> well, we don't know if he did -- >> elizabeth, sorry to interrupt you, because we want to take you right to the white house where the briefing that we were telling you has begun.
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we will listen in. >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. i just wanted to make one point before we get started. i have with me today john brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counter terrorism, and he will take questions from you about the events of last night and yesterday afternoon and what preceded those events. and then if you have any questions on other subjects,ly do about ten minutes after mr. brennan is finished to take those questions. i just want to make a point before john comes up that as many of you know that the president even before he was president when he was a candidate had a clear idea about the approach he would take as president towards osama bin
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laden. in august of 2007, he said, if we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets, and president musharraf won't act, we will. in july of 2008, he said, we must make it clear that if pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out higher the errorist targets like bin laden if we have them in our sights. we repeated statements like that before, and i wa to make it clear that this is an approach he always felt he would take as president, and then as john will elaborate once he took office he made sure that we would revitalize our focus on osama bin laden and the hunt for him. so, with that, i'd like to invite john up to take your questions, and i will be standing here if you have questions on other topics.
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thank you. >> how do you want to do this? [ laughter ] >> come on, a free for all. >> the associated press. >> thank you, sir. i wanted to ask about the specific goal of the raid. was there a consideration to try to take bin laden alive or was the mission to kill him on sight? >> absolutely, it was to prepare for all contingencies. if we had the opportunity to take bin laden alive and if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that. we had discussed that extensively in a number of meetings in the white house and with the president, and the concern was that bin laden would oppose any time of capture operation, and indeed, he did. it was a firefight. he, therefore, was killed in that firefight, and that is when the remains were removed, but we were certainly planning for the
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possibility which we thought was going to be removed given that he would likely resist arrest to capture him. >> did you believe that the most likely outcome would be killed on sight? >> we tried to make sure that we were able to accomplish the mission safely and securely for the people involved. we were not going to put our people at risk. the president put a premium on the fact that our personnel were protected and we would not give bin laden or any of his cohorts the opportunity to carry out lethal fire on our forces. he was engaged and killed in the process. but if we could take him alive, we would have. >> and can you tell us how osama bin laden was able to hide in this prominent location and do you believe the pakistanis when they say they didn't know he was there? >> people refer to this as
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hiding in plain sight. this is a possibility, and pack tan is a large country. we are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long, and whether or not there was any type of support system within pakistan that allowed him to stay there. we though that the people at the compound there were working on his behalf, and that is how we ultimately found our way to the compound, but we are right nowless than 24 hours after this operation, so we are talking with the pakistanis on a regular basis now, and we will pursue all leads to find out exactly what type of support system and benefactors that bin laden would have had. >> you don't take them at their word that they didn't know? >> we are pursuing all leads on this issue. >> is it credible that pakistani authorities had no idea that the come po compound was being built, and that it was so elaborate? >> well, it is conceivable that bin laden did fot hanot have a t
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system in the country to allow him to stay there for an extended period of time. i won't speculate on what type of support he would have had on an official basis, and we are talking to the pakistanis right now and with are leaving open opportunities to continue to pursue what other leads may be out there. >> and another thing that a lot of people think about when they hear this news is what does this mean about the war in afghanistan and does it make it easier to wind down the phase there? >> well, i think that the accomplishment that very brave personnel from the united states government were able to realize yesterday is a defeining moment in the war against al qaeda, and terrorism by decapitating the head of the snake, and i think it will have important reverberations throughout the area and the al qaeda network in that area. in is something that we have been after for 15 years.
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it goes back before 9/11. so i think that what we are doing now is to try to take advantage of the opportunity that we have to demonstrate to the pakistani people, and to the people in the area that al qaeda is something in the past. and we are hoping to bury the rest offal a cade along with bin laden. >> in the situation room yesterday, can you monitor the goings on as tense, and understandably very tense scene, and were you watching the operation? were you just listening to it? how were you getting your information? >> the principles convened yesterday around midday and there were others who were here early yesterday morning. the president joined us then early afternoon before the operation got understood w way. when the operation was under way, the president rejoined the group. when we mon for titored the pro
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of the operation from the commencement to the time of the extraction of the remains and the egress off of the target. it was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday. the minutes passed like days. the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel. that is what was on his mind throughout and we wanted to make sure that we were able to get through this and accomplish the mission, but it was clearly tense, and lot of of people holding their breath, and there was a fair degree of silence as it progressed, as we would get the updates, and when we finally were informed that those individuals who were able to go in that compound and found an individual they believed to be bin laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief that what we believed and who we believed was in that compound was actually in that compound
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and found and the president was relieved once we had our people and those remains off target. >> was it -- was there a visual? or was it just a radio reports or phone reports that you were getting? >> we were able to monitor the situation in realtime and able to have a regular updates and to ensure that we had realtime visibility into the progres of that operation, and i won't go into details about what type of visuals we had or what types of feeds that were there, but it gave us the ability to track it on an ongoing basis. >> i understand a moment of real tension, one with the helicopter, and also when the navy s.e.a.l.s were leaving and the pakistani government started to scramble the jets, and there was a concern when that they were coming to where the u.s. troops were, where the navy s.e.a.l.s were. was there an actual concern that the pakistanis, since they were
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not apparently informed about this military operation, was there an actual concern that they might actually take military action against the navy s.e.a.l.s? >> we didn't contact the pakistanis until after all of our people and aircraft were out of pakistani air space. at that time they were reacting to an incident they knew was taking place in abottabad and clearly we were concerned that if they decided to scramble jets or whatever else, they had no idea who was on the jets whether it was u.s. or somebody else, so we were watching and making sure that our people and aircraft were able to get out of the air space. thankfully, no engagement of the pakistani forces. this operation was designed to minimize the chances of engagement of pakistani forces. it was done very well, and thankfully no pakistani forces were engaged, and there were no
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other individuals who were killed aside from those in the compound. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. can you talk to us about what documentation you may have found there? was it a bank vault worth of information and potentially able to get more leads out of the information? >> the people in the compound tooked a vange ad vavantage of there to acquire whatever material we thought was appropriate and what was needed, and we are in the process reegt now of looking at whatever might have been picked up. but i will not go into details about what might have been acquired, because we feel that this is an important time to continue to prosecute this effort against al qaeda and take advantage of the success of yesterday and continue to work to break the back of al qaeda. >> was it a lot of information? what can you describe in terms of volume? >> we are trying to determine the worth of whatever information we picked up. it is not necessarily quantity, but frequently, it is quality. >> and now that you have bin
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laden, can you tell us how close the u.s. has gotten to him in the past beyond tora bora and any other close calls that we have not been informed about? >> well, over the years, and tora bora was the last time that we had actionable and what we thought was credible information about where he was located. a number of leads have been pursued over the years, and this operation demonstrates that there are very, very good people who have been following bin laden for years, and they have been persistent and pulled on every thread. as a result of the diligence and the analytic capabilities they were able to track this and continue to build a body of evidence that suggested circumstantially that bin laden was at that compound. that's what they did. it was much greater confidence that we had in this body of intelligence and in this body of information that we have had since tora bora, and still though, there was nothing that confirmed that bin laden was at that come pokocompound and thern president obama was faced with the opportunity to act upon
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this, the president had to evaluate the strength of the information, and then made what i believe is one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in memory. >> and according to final mission, can you talk to us about the anxiety of not being able to track or get the name initially of the gentleman who led you to the compound? >> well, counterterrorism work and doing what is called targeting analysis is exceptionally tedious and painstaking as far as taking a little bit of data and piecing it together and trying to correlate it with something else. as a result of the information that we had in a generic way of the couriers and the carriers for bin laden over time we were able to piece together additional information and get the name he was known by and then associate that with his real name, and associate that then with other things that the real name was associated with, and track it until we got to the
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compound in abottabad and then over the last six months in trying to ensure that we had the best visibility in terms of understanding what was happening at that compound, that body of evidence except accumulating to the point when the president said, i want to have operations against this compound, and i want to know what the pros and cons are of them and i want to have options and i want to make sure that we take into account the safety and the security of the american people, and of the americans who would be conducting the operations and look at it from the standpoint of limiting collateral damage, and making sure we maximize the chances of the mission's success and ultimately we got to that point and to bring them together and the president made the decision and the results speak for themselves. >> you said that osama bin laden was involved in the firefight and it has been reported that he reached for a weapon. did he get his hand on a gun, and did he fire himself? >> he was engaged in a firefight with those who entered the area
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of the house through his end and whether or not he got off any rounds i quite frankly don't know. from a visual perspective, here is bin laden calling for the attacking living in a $1 million-plus compound and living in an area that is far removed from the front, and hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. i think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over to the years, and so, again, looking at what bin laden was doing hiding there while he is putting other people out there to carry out attacks, again, just speaks to, i think the nature of the individual he was. >> and the anxiety-filled minutes of the last few days, what was the most anxiety-filled moment, and was it when the helicopter appeared to be inoperable or when you heard shots fired, and when you monitored in realtime could you actually hear the shots fired? >> you know, when you plan these things out, you have already, you know, in your mind exactly
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what is the first step and the second step and the everything going along and if there is any deviation from that, it causes anxiety, but the individuals carrying out the assault planned for all of the contingencies, so when the helicopter was seen to not moving they went into plan b and they did it flawlessly and conducted the operation as they were preparing to do. but seeing that helicopter in a place, and in and condition that it was not supposed to be, and for me at least, and otherhe ro concern that we had to go to the contingency plan and they were able to carry tout contingency plan as the initial plan. >> did you hear shots fired? >> we were able to monitor the situation in realtime. [ laughter ] >> when the -- when he actually -- can you describe any reaction by the president specifically when it became
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clear that this was osama bin laden and that he had been killed? do you remember the president's words or reaction from it? >> well, i want to say it became clear and one of the things that we had to do throughout the course of the operation is that when the individuals who carried out assault knew they had who appeared to be osama bin laden, and other things the facial recognition, and the height and the dna analysis and the incremental build-up and the confidence was building up, but at what point are you confident that you have the person that you are af. so it was more of a growing sense of confidence and not a ha! when the dna results come in. no, it was built over time and we made a decision last night because we felt as though we were confident enough to go out to the meamerican people and th world to say we got him. >> and the president's reaction
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at any time? >> we got him. >> all right. circle back to a point that you made, bin laden used women as human shields when american personnel went in? >> there was family at that compound, and there was a female who was in fact in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin laden from the incoming fire. >> i'm wondering where you are at this point on the idea of releasing photos of bin laden to show to world that he is dead. >> we are less than 24 hours from the arrival on target of those individuals. we have released a tremendous amount of information to date. we are going to continue to look at the information that we have, and make sure that we are able the share what we can, because we want to make sure that not only american people, but the world understand exactly what
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happened, and the confidence that we have that it was conducted in accordance with the mission design. at the same time, we don't want to do anything that is going to compromise our ability to be as successful the next time we get one of these guys and take them off of the battlefield. >> is there some thought though that releasing a photo or two might avoid conspiracy theories throughout the muslim world? >> we will do everything that we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got osama bin laden. and so therefore, the releasing of information and whether that includes photographs is something to be determined. >> john, the debate about whether to release something or what to release when it comes to visual evidence? >> it is both. i think it is what falls into the category of things that you can potentially release to the public. whether it is the dna results, whether it be comments about the
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conduct of the operation, what happened, the intelligence base, and then you have to take a look at it from the standpoint of what are the upsides and the downsides and sometimes you conduct an operation based on intelligence and based on the very sensitive and very capable forces that we have available to us in the u.s. government, you want to make sure that you are not doing anything to expose something that will limit your ability to use those same intelligent forces and capables in the future. >> and has anybody secured this compound? has the pakistani army gone in or government to secure this compound? >> well, looking at algerthe lo
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news there, i believe they have taken over the compound. and an individual who was identified as the gatekeeper courier, and the residence was at least in my understanding in his name. >> and it is my understanding that you called it just now that the president is one of the gutsiest decisions that he made, and that implies that there was some disagreement around the table whether this was not a unanimous recommendation? >> absolutely. and that is the way that it is. he goes around the room and wants to hear the views. so you have a circumstantial intelligence case, and so, people will see that either there's insufficient circumstantial evidence to go forward with something like this which involves a unilateral operation in another country to go after someone you believe is osama bin laden, and there were differing views that were discussed and that is what the president wants to know and different coas which are courses of actions which are the types
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of things that you can do which involve the assault on the compound as well as standoff position. and what are the benefits of doing that from a remote location, like we have done in the past in certain areas as well as what are the risks associated with security forces actually going into the compound. this was debated across the board and the president wanted the make sure at the end that he had the views of all of the principles. >> was ait a close call in your opinion? >> for the president to go forward? >> yes. >> i have been following bin laden for 15 years and been after this guy, and i have the utmost confidence of the people at particularly the cia who have been tracking him, and they were confident and the confidence is growing. this is different, and this intelligenc intelligenceicati case is diffe and the confidence factor was growing and i was confident that
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the team that went in there had the exceptional skill to do it capably, and i was a supporter and other people were as well, but the president had to look at a all of the the scenarios and the contingencies down, there and what would have been the downsides if it weren't bin laden or a helicopter went down, so he felt it was so important with the skut -- security of the american people that he went forward. >> can you tell us what about the pakistani investigations and what they knew or not? >> well, the president had spoken to president zardari, and we are in continuing contact with them and engaging with them today as we learn more about the compound and whatever type of support system that was there. we have had differences of view with the pakistani government with cooperation of their
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agencies, and i should say that pakistan is more successful of capturing terrorists in their country by a wide margins, and there are many pakistanis soldi soldiers and citizens who have given their lives because of the terrible scourge in that country. so although there are differences in pakistan, we believe it is important to breaking the backbone of al qaeda and eventually prevailing over al qaeda and associated terror groups. >> john, can you tell us about the burial at sea? where did it happen? when did it happen? >> the disposal of the burial of bin laden's remains was done in strict conformance with the islamic precepts and practices. it was prepared in concordance with the islamic mandates.
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we wanted to prepare for that type of burial and make sure it was done in strict conformance, so it was taken care of in the appropriate way. i will not go into details of sort of the where, but that burial has taken place, and it took place earlier today our time. >> why? >> sorry. >> when was that decision made that he was going to be buried at sea? >> one at a time. >> and was this part of the plans all along? >> the coas, the course of action, and the subsequent decisions that would have to be made have been developed with the course over the last several months. the senior officials and it was a working group working this on a regular basis if not a daily basis over the last several weeks looking at every decision and based on every scenario that would unfold what actions and decisions would be made. it was looked at from the standpoint of the we captured him, what would we do with him?
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where would he go? if he was killed, what would we do with him and where would he go? and it was determined in the best interest of those involved that the burial take place according to islamic requirements at sea. >> why at sea? >> why? >> why was that a good idea? >> it was determined that there is a requirement in the islamic law that an individual be buried within 24 hours. when inside of pakistan and underwent the operation and he was killed in pakistan. there were certain steps that had to be taken because of the nature of operation. we wanted to do that in a time period allotted for it. going to another country, and making those arrangements and requirements would have exceeded that time period in our view. and so therefore, we thought that the best way to ensure that his body was given an
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appropriate islamic burial was to take those actions that would allow us to do that burial at sea. >> john, did you consult a muslim expert? >> we consulted the appropriate specialists and experts and there was unanimity that this is the best way to handle this. >> and the last question, do you know if the detainees in gitmo has been informed of what has happened? >> i do not know. >> there were reports that he was wrapped in a weighted white sheet and how secure is that? are you confident that the body is not going to -- >> burials at sea take place on a regular basis. the u.s. military has the ability to ensure that that burial is done in a manner that is, again, consistent with the islamic law and consistent with what the requirements are for a burial at sea, so that burial was done appropriately. >> and today, lawmakers are urging possibly reconsidering
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aid to pakistan and aid there, and -- >> well, there are a number of questions and understandably so, because we are again in the first day after the operation, and he was found in abottabad outside of islamabad and people have questions about whether there was support by the pakistani government, and people are raising this question, and now we will have to deal with them. >> and is there a -- >> we have to get past that. >> and one more question about the burial, was there and imam there? >> appropriate people were there. >> and tonight at the dinner, what will the president say about this and that is different than before and particularly geared to them? can you give us a preview? >> well, you have another 20 hours' information that was required since what he said to the nation last night. what he will try to do is to
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give the congressional visitors here an update on that. last night, we didn't have some of the analysis that was done and now we can say with 99.9% con i tfidence that it is osama laden. and so it is those things and to explain to the congress in many respects the unique features of the mission, and how it was kept so closely held within our government and why it was done in a unilateral fashion and the things along those lines. >> is this the burial that the u.s. offered to the saudis and they declined the burial -- is that true? h. >> well, after we had a confidence that it was bin laden and that he was dead, we took the steps that we had agreed to in the interagency that were necessary to insure that burial at sea was the most appropriate thing to do, and so we touched base with the right people, and i'm not going g ting to go int
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details about the aftermath of the death or the burial. >> and mr. brennan, can you give us any details of the previous operations called off at the last minute because of risks or the perhaps inability to identify bin laden's body positively if the it had done differently? >> against this target? >> against this target. >> as i said, there were different courses of actions available to the president as to whether it was an assault on the ground or some type of standoff option. discussed all of the pros and cons of them, and through that process of discussion, the options were narrowed down until the president decided that this was the best option, because it gave us the ability to minimize collateral damage, ensure that we knew who it was that was on that compound as opposed to taking some type of strike there, and also as a way to do what we could to respect the
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sovereignty of pakistan and also to allow us to engage with them immediately after the fact as opposed to some type of ordinance that might bep drodde on it. >> and one follow-up, you mentioned questions of pakistan understandably and the role of pakistan and for you in your counterterrorism job, and given now the history of the raymond davis episode and the fact that this was done without consultation, are you concerned that in your line of work, it is going to be very difficult to establish a good working relationship there? >> well, there is dialogue going on with the counterparts in the aftermath. they are expressing understanding about why we did this. they are appreciative that it was done without having pakistani casualties outside of that compound. the u.s./pakistani relationship which is a strategic relationship goes on number of
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areas and levels an counterterer roism is one of them. it can be a complicated matter and we don't always agree on the things that we want to do, but through the continued dialogue and communication, we get to where we need to be, and this is one more incident that we have to deal with and we look forward to continuing to work the pakistani colleagues because they are as much if not more on the front lines of the battle of terrorism. >> how certain are you that there will be some kind of movement to avenge this death? some kind of retaliation? is there, if you still had the color coded alerts, would this be a time when you would raise this alert? >> janet napolitano and the secretary of security announced that there is a change to the area, and she has put out a statement that says we don't have the credible reporting that would require in their mind an elevation of the status, and like any incident like this, what we do is to take the
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prudent steps afterward to make sure that we have the vigilance up, and we are taking the appropriate measures to make sure that the security posture is strong overseas and here. but there is always a potential for terrorist groups to strike out and avenge an operation like this, but some of them are asking themselves, bin laden is dead, and the al qaeda narrative is becoming increasingly bankrupt, and there is a new wave sweeping through the middle east right now that puts a premium on individual rights and dignity, and al qaeda and bin laden old news, and now is a time to move forward. we are hoping that this sends a message to those individuals out there that, you know, the terrorism, and the militancy is not the wave of the future, but the wave of the past. >> and is al qaeda weaker and never able to return to the kind of -- >> this is a strategic blow tole a cade. it is a necessary, but not necessarily sufficient blow to lead to its demise, but we are determined to destroy it. we have a lot better opportunity
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now, that bin laden is out of there, and to destroy that organization, and create fac fractures within it, and the number two, al zawahiri is not charismatic and he was not involved in the fight earlier on in afghanistan, so and i think that he has a lot of detractors within the organization and you are going to start seeing them eating themselves from within more and more. >> mr. brennan, thank you. there are reports that there was a replica of the compound. can you tell us anything about where and how that was president together? >> you can imagine that for something as important as this, and something as risky as this, every effort would be made to do the practice runs, and understand the complexities and the layout of the compound, and there were multiple opportunities to do that in terms of going through the exercises to prepare for it so that once they hit the come poun, they had simulated that a number of times. so this was done, and again, i won't go ininto details about where or e when, but needless to
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say, that when they hit that compound, they had already trained against it numerous times. >> and can i ask you as a follow-up that the compound was so big, and how did the s.e.a.l.s know how to find bin laden and can you say it was a bedroom or a dining areaer oopen area or something like that? >> the outer features of the compound were studied intensely, and there were certain assessments about where certain individuals were living and bin laden and his familier were and they operated according the that and they didn't know when they got there exactly what some is to internal features of it would be, but they had planned based on certain, again, observable features of the compound to carry it out, and whoever it was that actually did the assault on it, and you named a certain group -- >> wasn't the bin laden family a prtf of the compound? >> absolutely. >> that is maybe a question for david, but given the unity of
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the messaging from both parties in the last 24 hours, will the president make any appeal to leaders tonight that this send some unity compared to other issues that they need to go to. >> well, i will address that, but i want to get john a few more, because he has other things to do, and i want to go to april, and maybe two or three more. >> how many civilian casualties were there? >> the two a cade facial qaeda facilitators and his brother and the woman presumed to be his wife used as a shield. >> did he take her as a shield or someone else put her in front of him? >> i was not, there so i will not say who tried to use her as a shield from incoming fire. >> i want to go back to a
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question dealing with security. and the intelligence in the administration and the administration prior it says an attack is not if it will happen, but when it will happen, and are you saying, because it was a strategic blow and the head of the snake was lobbed off, have we changed that mindset or changing it because of the mindset? >> i have never changed my mindset of not if but when. every official out there are trying to stop every attack that might be out there and uncover every plot. so they go into each day believing they can have another day without an attack against our interests or not. there is a mortally wounded tiger that still has life in it that is danger, and we have to keep up the pressure, because there are individuals in the organization that are determined to carry out attacks and murder
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innocent men, women, and children. >> with the death of bin laden, what is the thought of the administration that you believe that the pakistani government was transparent and being honest and forthcoming even with the information that they had given on bin laden and what they knew or going into more about this situation? >> well, there are a lot of people within the pakistan sni government. i won't stek ypeak about whethe of them had any knowledge of bin laden being in abottabad, but the location outside of the capital raises questions. we are talking about this, and they in our discussions with them seem surprised as we were initially that bin laden was holding out in that area. >> earlier, using this as a pivot point to demonstrate to the people of pakistan that the violence has passed, is the president still planning to make the visit there -- >> i will not discuss the
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president's schedule. a lot of it has to deal with availability and scheduling, but the president believes strongly that the people of pakistan need to realize their potential to have a life of prosperity, and because of the al qaeda menace as well as other militant organizations in the country, too many pakistanis have suffered, and have died because of that, and what the president is wanting to do and what we are doing with the pakistani government is to see what we can do to help the pakistani government provide that lifestyle for their populous in the future. >> steven and then over here. >> does the fight with bin laden found in such apparently comfortable conditions in pakistan and other places like yemen in terms of the terrorism undercut the rational for the need of 100,000 troops in
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afghanistan? >> the basis for the isap presence in afghanistan is to bring that country the security that it can have andb to not allow al qaeda to ever again use afghanistan as a launching point. this is something that we are in ongoing discussions with them, and we have to make sure that part of the world that has given rise to a number of groups, al qaeda and others that they cannot use that area without impunity to carry out attacks. we are as determined as we ever have been to bring the security that these countries and people need and deserve, because of what we can in fact help them with. >> sam? >> i am curious that we didn't let any other countries know before the strikes, but in the time since, has the president had any contact with the the leaders of the nato countries? >> the president has had a number of conversations with the foreign leaders about this issue, but i won't go into the
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individual discussions he has had, but clearly, this is is something of international significance, and in that he has, and will continue to have in the coming days those discussions. >> but you can't say if he has talked to chancellor merkel or sarkozy? >> he could have. >> as a follow-up, in the unique size of the compound, it is likely that the neighbors knew anything about this that lived there? >> when you look at the features of the compound, the very high walls, 12, 16, 18-foot walls with barbed wire on the top, and this is a family and a compound that had very limited interaction to the best of our knowledge, and or sbservation w the surrounding houses, but it is clearly different from any other house out there, and it had the appearance of sort of a fortress, so it does raise questions about -- >> well -- >> well, basically, i think that we have had some indications
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that they, the family that was there tried to remain anonymous and tried not to have that interaction, but again, it does raise questions about a compound of that size in this area not raising suspicions of previously. >> thank you, sir. >> i want to ask if i can get a follow on -- >> i want to clear something up, because a few of us were confused. the woman that was killed was bin laden's wife? >> it smi understanding. it is my understanding. >> and he was using her as a shield? >> she served as a shield, and it is my understanding, and we are still getting the reports of what happened at the particular moments but when she fought back, and when there was a opportunity to get to bin laden, she was positioned in a way that indicated she was used as a shield, and whether bin laden or the son or whether she put herself there, yes, that is my understanding she met her demise and my understanding is that she was one of bin laden's wives. >> how many people -- >> thank you, sir. >> thank you very much.
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i am sure we will have more as -- >> was there a reason that you said 99.9% certain, and why not say 100? >> i believe that is based on the dna. >> i just want to start by addressing a question about tonight, the president will tonight as john said obviously make remarks related to the successful mission against osama bin laden. i think that one of the themes that you will likely hear him sound is will echo what he said last night which is that this is a good day or good days for america and americans. the fact that we could accomplish this says a lot about the country and our perseverance and you could fairly say that the victims in this country on 9/11, the americans who were victims were not republicans or democrats, but they were americans.
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those who launched and working on this diligently for 9 1/2 years are not republicans or democrats, but americans. those who carried out the mission yesterday, the same could be said about them, so that the one theme that you would likely hear about the president on tonight is about the capacity for americans to come together and achieve very difficult goals when we work together. >> can we get that line? >> we can follow up with you on logistics, and there are logistical issues right after this, and we will get it to you if not right after, it will be live. and another ten minutes or so, so we can file things. i will take the associated press and then move around a little bit. >> thank you. this is in line of what we were talking about, but obviously, if the president gave this final order on friday morning and then went on a long trip and had the
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correspondents trip saturday and then golfing trip, so can you talk about the poker face going through the events knowing that actions were going to be taken? >> well, i would -- i think that one thing is important to note is that as john mentioned the compartmentalization here, and there was obviously a success here at different level which was to keep the mission secret. having spent a great deal of time with him friday, i can say that he was focus cused on the devastation in tuscaloosa and talked about it a lot in the wake of the visit, and in the -- the experience that i think that was unique about that is that you discover that, when folks get an opportunity to meet the president, there are different ways that they do that, and you
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know, town hall meetings or rope lines or things like that, but there is something unique about even a president to meet individuals who have suffered such terrible things as those residents of tuscaloosa did, and in that moment of despair is powerful and i think that he felt that. so he was focused on that and obviously the cape canaveral and then on to the commencement address at miami-dade college, and having said that, he was obviously taking calls and being updated regular and the same with saturday and sunday which sunday he spent a great deal of his day in the west wing and in the situation room. let me -- george? >> after the meeting tonight, other than bin laden, what is his objective as far as budget and other -- >> well, as we have said, this is a continuation of his effort to bring leaders of congress
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here in a social setting with spouses to improve communication in general. will is no agenda. there is no goal in terms of budget or any other issue except to have that kind of conversation which i think that he finds to be a useful thing to do in terms of in some ways creating a better environment for the kind of work that the white house and the congress needs to do, need to do together. nothing beyond that, george. hold on one second. >> thank you. two things. briefly, who is in charge of the compound now? >> that was asked and our understanding on the visuals that we have seen is that the pakistani authorities are in charge of the compound. >> and secondly, and more importantly, what was the legal
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basis for the operation? >> i would refer you to what the president said that since taking office and prior to it, given t the, the attack that osama bin laden launched against the united states, the lives that he took, not just on 9/11, but on other occasions that he was a high-value target and legitimate target and this president believed since long before he became president that given actionable intelligence to capture or kill osama bin laden, he would move very quickly and surely to take that action, and the opportunity presented itself. >> so, this would have applied to pakistan and other countries if he was found somewhere else? >> i simply say that it was a great deal of confidence as has been discussed by experts for a long time that he was in that border region or in pakistan.
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so i don't think that the hypothetical really makes a lot of sense. let's see -- cheryl. >> has the president picked a new commerce secretary and when can we see that announcement? >> i don't have any personnel announcements for you or timing of personnel announcements for you. let me just -- bill. >> what is lost in the news is the nato strike against gadhafi's strike saturday where his son and three grandchildren were killed and does the white house believe that was in keeping of carrying out the u.n. resolution? >> yes, ample commentary about that from the nato, so we do believe that, and obviously, we continue to focus on that mission as we do on other missions. >> as there to gadhafi? >> you could say that.
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all right. all right. you have been listening for about 50 minutes to the white house briefing. john brennan and a couple of highlights to tell you about john brennan, the counterterrorism adviser to the president said that if they had the opportunity to take osama bin laden alive they would have, but clearly they did not. and another thing that was interesting is the build-up of the confidence once they started to learn they had the man. first they knew that the injured man looked like osama bin laden and then they did the facial recognition technology and then the dna testing today, so they are confident they had their man and they talked about how it felt to announce that to the world we got him. and as far as the release of the photographs of osama bin laden, they are not sure if that will be released. in the meantime, i can tell you that in the meantime, osama bin laden had taken lives well before september 1 1th. certainly well before the
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attacks in 2001, and a year prior al qaeda bombed the "uss cole" injuring 70 sailors and injuring 30 more. and joining us is the ship commander who was aboard when it was attacked. commander, thank you for coming on the show today. what do you think that the death of bin laden means for your crew and the families of those killed back in 2000? >> i think that both the crew and the families are very proud and happy this has happened. it is a source of vindication that the united states will be relentless in pursuing those who threaten our nation and kill our citizen, and that we will bring them to justice. this serves as a measure of justice for those families, but even with that said, it was tempered by the fact that my crew lost loved ones and crew, and that is going to be tempered by the loss that all of us suffered. >> when you first heard that
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osama bin laden had been killed, what did you think it would mean for the morale of all of the soldiers in the army and the navy and the marines? >> well i think that as you saw the cameras going around, the morale was boosted by this. it was a major blow no the head of al qaeda. he served as the head, so to take out the head even though it does not cripple the organization and we do face threats from al qaeda, the reality of it is that this is a major blow for freedom and the justice that we so dearly deserved. >> and i understand that you have actually taken part in some of othese, in some of the burials at sea similar to how they may have buried osama bin laden, and what can you tell us about that process, and what takes place this is. >> it is a formal and respectful ceremony having participated in them and conducted them. when they bring the body on board, it is always treated with respect. and there is always an honor guard held over the body, and we
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do follow the religion custom of whatever the individual is that is being buried, and when we do it at sea, we do it with respect. >> so, there would have been honors for osama bin laden, do you believe? >> i doubt that. i i thi think that he was treat accordance with the muslim tra igs dission but i doubt that there were honors in accordance with the body, but he was brought on board and he was treated respectfully, because afterall, it is an individual and we will send them to their final resting place, but i doubt that we rendered in honors whatsoever. >> are you concerned at all that al qaeda may strike in response to this? >> there's no doubt in my mind that al qaeda right now is planning to conduct, and probably speed up several operations that had been in the planning phase. they are going to strike, but it is a matter of when and how hard. given that we have disrupted
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several intelligence and disrupted several plots in the past, we hope to get the tips and the indicators to do it again. we have to be able to use these intelligence resources, and obviously, this operation was years in the making to be able to take those small shreds of evidence to use them to build an intelligence picture that finally allowed this president to make that final decision to say, we have what we need for intelligence and confirm that this is the individual we are after, and we have the military resources and capability in place to be able to conduct a successful operation, and ultimately the president signed off, and they executed a very successful mission that went off virtually flawlessly from the word we are getting. >> all right. commander, thank you very much, and we appreciate your insight, and this is a very important dayer for you. thank you. >> thank you. >> and as we told you that osama bin laden -- thank you. we have been telling you that osama bin laden is dead, killed
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by u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s in a raid in pakistan, and the big question now is of course what impact does bin laden's death have on the terrorist group that he created and of course that group is al qaeda. joining us to talk about this is steve cole, the president of the new america foundation and contribute for for the "new yorker" magazine, and he is the author of "ghost wars, the history of the cia and afghanistan and the bin ladens and the arabian family in the american century." thank you for joining us. do you think that al qaeda will be as deadly as it was now with bin laden gone? >> in the long run, no. al qaeda was already in decline. it had lost popularity in the muslim society steadily over the last few years, but part of its resilience was reflected in the resilience of osama bin laden's success in eluding capture and his ability to continue to speak to his followers and
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sympathizers about the kind of war he believed he was leading. after his passing, it is unlikely that any leader would emerge with the same kind of myth and sort of spiritual presence and credibility that he had among those who followed him. and so, i do believe it will accelerate the decline offal a cade which in many ways was already under way, but however, as the previous speaker pointed out, this is a resilient organization, and a small number of people can do a lot of odamage this the world, so i am not suggesting that the threat that al qaeda poses is going to go away any time soon. >> i'm curious how much of a role he played this the day-to-day operations. do you have any insight on that? >> well, nobody knows. obviously, not a lot of evidence about that. we know that he obviously had some contact with the follower, because he was able to get the messages out so regularly, ab
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habd his image before going into hiding was to be more after planner than executioner. so he would say yes to this or no to that, and i imagine that hiding in pakistan he was still able occasionally to pass judgment about directions, should we go after the mainland ud, united states, and what is the strategy in europe and perhaps authorized certain plots, but the visibility into the role was dim, because nobody was able to even locate him for a number of years. >> and just real quick here, because we have 30 seconds left, how much do you think that the pakistani government knew about bin laden's whereabouts in pakistan? >> well, the circumstances of his capture raise the question. he was in a town that is dominated by the pakistan army and the home he was in for
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apparently years at a time was in close proximity to pakistan's westpoint, and i think that the questions will persist. >> we appreciate your insight as always. thank you. our coverage continues with wolf blitzer and anderson cooper. they will be here right after this quick break. ing up our wirs network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
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